Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bell Edwards signed a new law in June eliminating the possibility of imprisonment for low-marijuana crimes involving up to half an ounce. The law came into force on August 1, 2021.
House Bill 652 amends Pelican State law so that people who have up to 14 grams of marijuana for non-medical purposes are fined no more than $ 100 – no arrest and no jail time. The fine remains in effect, regardless of whether the offender has had previous convictions for marijuana.
Increased sentences and imprisonment remain in force for recidivists who have been convicted of possession of more than 14 grams of marijuana.
According to an analysis conducted by the Southern Legal Center for Poverty, African Americans have been arrested for low-level marijuana offenses in Louisiana with three times the rate of whites. In some cities, such as Baton Rouge, blacks have been arrested for violating marijuana laws at six times the rate of whites.
“This is a much-needed policy change for Louisiana,” said NORML Public Policy Manager Carly Wolf. “The passage of this legislation is a major step forward in ending the racially discriminatory policy of labeling otherwise lawful Louisians as criminals for petty marijuana offenses, when law enforcement should instead focus on fighting legal crime.”
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation that legalizes or decriminalizes the possession of adult marijuana.
Contact us for more information Carly Wolf, NORML State Policy Manager.